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Music / Exile in Guyville

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Exile in Guyville is the debut studio album by Liz Phair, released in 1993. It was a surprising critical success, and it garnered the singer-songwriter mainstream attention.

The album cover features Liz topless in a photo booth. Its lyrical themes mainly revolve around the sexual and intellectual independence of women, a direct contrast to the frequently sexist attitudes Liz faced while growing up. It's also a Concept Album of sorts, where each song is supposed to be an Answer Song to The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. (Liz has acknowledged that not all of the parallels may make sense to other people, but has said she was consciously thinking of the Stones album when writing the songs and constructing the album; she's also given interviews such as this one in which she's elaborated more on some of the parallels.)

Compositionally, Liz's voice is intentionally overshadowed by the surrounding music, giving a more full and production-heavy sound. It wasn't a huge commercial success, but remains a widely influential album since it helped shatter the Double Standard against women singing sexual songs.


  1. "6′1″" (3:05)
  2. "Help Me Mary" (2:16)
  3. "Glory" (1:29)
  4. "Dance of the Seven Veils" (2:29)
  5. "Never Said" (3:16)
  6. "Soap Star Joe" (2:44)
  7. "Explain It to Me" (3:11)
  8. "Canary" (3:19)
  9. "Mesmerizing" (3:55)
  10. "Fuck and Run" (3:07)
  11. "Girls! Girls! Girls!" (2:20)
  12. "Divorce Song" (3:20)
  13. "Shatter" (5:28)
  14. "Flower" (2:03)
  15. "Johnny Sunshine" (3:27)
  16. "Gunshy" (3:15)
  17. "Stratford-On-Guy" (2:59)
  18. "Strange Loop" (3:57)

"Exile in Tropeville":

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: "Soup Star Joe" is a parody of this and how Americans idealize the Troubled, but Cute guys who eventually make it big.
  • Alliterative Title: "Girls Girls Girls". "Soap Star Joe".
  • As the Good Book Says...: "Dance of the Seven Veils" is based on the story of Salome and John the Baptist in the New Testament. The name of the song itself originated in Oscar Wilde's play Salome and draws on a long literary tradition of portraying the titular female character as an incarnation of female lust.
  • Break Up Song: "Divorce Song", obviously. It's also one of a soft, melancholy song.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The album's language is frequently rather salty. "Fuck and Run" is naturally the most obvious example.
  • Concept Album: Sort of. The album really isn't a song-by-song answer to Exile on Main St., but it drives home the point that women can make intelligent and sexual rock music.
  • Country Matters: "Dance of the Seven Veils":
    I only ask because I'm a real cunt in spring
    You can rent me by the hour
    I know all about the ugly pilgrim thing
    Entertainers bring May flowers
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The inside artwork was influenced by Lopez Tejera's 1952 album "The Joys and Sorrows of Andalusia". It even features polaroid shots of Liz and the management team, along with various other people.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "Stratford-On-Guy" mentions that she's in a plane wishing she were in a Galaxie 500 video, which are known for their really trippy psychedelic effects.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The first two and a half minutes of "Shatter" are instrumental. Inverted with "Strange Loop", whose final two minutes or so are instrumental.
  • Face on the Cover: The album cover depicts a photo of a topless Phair striking a defiant pose; some releases crop the photo to remove most of her chest from view.
  • Gossip Evolution: "Never Said" is Liz denying having spoken something the other person in the conversation heard, which was possibly subject to this ("I don't know where you heard it\ Don't know who's spreadin' it 'round"). She said the inspiration was how the Chicago music scene was very catty and upset about whatever was being spread about their bands.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Fuck and Run".
  • Intercourse with You: Lots of songs, but "Glory" probably takes the cake:
    He's got a really big tongue
    It rolls way out
    Snaking around in the club
    It slicks you down
    Scratching his face like a bum
    He pulls you back [...]
    You are, you are shining some glory
    On me
    • "Flower" is arguably even more so. See below under Non-Indicative Title, and that's not even all of it.
  • Introduction by Hookup: "Help Me, Mary" is about how she brings guys over to her house for sex, before they hypocritically begin to expect her to act a certain way.
  • Literary Allusion Title: As mentioned above, the title "Dance of the Seven Veils" comes from Oscar Wilde's play Salome.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: About half the songs on the album sound very pretty until you listen to the lyrics. Good examples include "Johnny Sunshine", "Dance of the Seven Veils", and "Divorce Song".
  • Manipulative Bastard: The title character in "Johnny Sunshine" appears to be one. He steals her car and her house and leaves the narrator with nothing.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Glory" is only about a minute and a half long.
  • Non-Indicative Title: "Flower", which is not actually about flowers at all:
    Every time I see your face I think of things unpure, unchaste
    I want to fuck you like a dog [...]
    Your lips a perfect "suck me" size
    You act like you're fourteen years old
    Everything you say is so obnoxious, funny, true and mean
    I want to be your blowjob queen
    • The title is possibly an Unusual Euphemism for a woman's genitalia... except it's not even that unusual. For instance, the common interpretation of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers is that they're not really just paintings of flowers, even though O'Keeffe herself denied this interpretation.
  • One-Man Song: "Johnny Sunshine" and "Soup Star Joe".
  • One-Word Title: "Glory", "Canary", "Mezmerizing", "Canary", "Shatter", "Flower" and "Gunshy".
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: "6′1″" runs on this, and a few other tracks also dip into low-energy singing.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Girls! Girls! Girls!"
  • Silly Love Songs: "Mesmerizing":
    With all of the time in the world to spend it
    Wild and unwise, I wanna be mesmerizing too
    Mesmerizing too
    Mesmerizing to you
  • The Something Song: "Divorce Song".
  • Song Style Shift: "Johnny Sunshine" starts off as a rousing midtempo rocker, then halfway through changes into a more anguished, minimalist ballad.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: "Divorce Song":
    And it's true that I stole your lighter
    And it's also true that I lost the map
    But when you said that I wasn't worth talking to
    I had to take you up on that
  • Three Chords and the Truth: "Glory", "Dance of the Seven Veils", and "Gunshy" all have only guitar backings. The production on the other songs still tends to be rather minimalist, though much less so than that of her earlier Girlysound recordings.